The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!! The first resolution of the new year is to write more stuff for The Passing Parade, and the second resolution of the year is to break any resolution I might make for the new year. This way I know I'll always keep at least one resolution. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BLESS GAIA: “Tonight is the longest night of the year,” said the Green Woman, “and it is on this night that we must awaken our spiritual energy and send it forth and bring back the light of the sun to the Earth, because the Earth is in great need…” And so it went, just before the winter solstice yesterday, as a man made a fire with a bow and a stick, and a woman dressed like an extra in a road company production of The Lord of the Rings intoned the sort of New Age drivel one comes to expect on such an occasion. There were the usual jeremiads against technology and corporate greed; you cannot, apparently, worship Gaia without bashing the shareholders on occasion, and our Green Woman made much of this week’s lunar eclipse and its spiritual connection to yesterday’s festivities.

Please color me unimpressed. That yesterday was the longest night of the year was the one fact in this woman’s ongoing spiel, and this fact is only true if you live in the Northern Hemisphere; if you live in Australia, it was the longest day of the year and probably a great day to go to the beach and enjoy yourself. In fact, with Christmas falling on a Saturday this year, your average Australian will probably spend many a long hour at the beach with the family, swimming and eating fried chicken and working on the tan while laughing at the poor Pommy bastards up to their backsides in snow in dear old Blighty, content in the knowledge that the horse great—great—great—great—granddad tried to snaffle in London way back in the day was the best thing that ever happened to the family; without Granddad to the fifth power getting caught and sentenced to transportation to the Antipodes, you’d be freezing your backside off now too.

I suppose this baying at the moon was the sort of thing that impressed the hell out of your average noble savage back in the days when being a noble savage was all the rage, but let me point something out here: my spiritual energy—always a low flame, I will admit—and the spiritual energy of everyone gathered together in that small park isn’t enough to light up a cigarette, assuming you could smoke one during the festivities, much less bring back the power of the sun to the Earth. The reason for this is simple: the Sun hasn’t gone anywhere. What occurred yesterday is that the Earth moved on its axis and from here on out the top part of the planet will be getting more sunlight than the bottom part of the planet. Please pardon me for pointing out that our collective spiritual energy didn’t have a damn thing to do with it; if none of us were in that park intoning New Age drivel, if ancient tribes of Hollywood extras did not sacrifice virginal platinum blondes to the all-knowing moon when the director barked, “Action,” if hordes of refugees from adult responsibility did not strip naked, smoke weed, and howl at the moon tonight, something I hear goes on a fairly regular basis in California’s state legislature, the Earth’s movement on its axis would still have happened. In short, Gaia doesn’t need our spiritual energy to do anything. I repeat, for those of you who are hard of reading, the winter solstice was going to happen anyway. Sir Isaac Newton, a strange little man with an odd predilection for drawing and quartering counterfeiters; a revolting hobby, to be sure, but we all need something to take our minds off our troubles, I suppose; explained how all of this worked in Principia Mathematica some three hundred years ago. He also explained how lunar eclipses happen too, and I hate to rain on anyone’s parade here, but the spiritual link between the winter solstice and the lunar eclipse isn’t a link at all; it’s just something that happens every so often. The last time it happened was 1638 and the next time it will happen is 2094, at which point the kids at yesterday’s get-together will be ancients and can bore their grandchildren to tears with stories of how dumb people were back in 2010. So all of that good spiritual energy you felt while chanting and moving around the big fire in a circle was probably the sugar rush you get when your body metabolizes the jelly doughnut you had for lunch instead of a ham sandwich. Doughnuts are a good thing, spiritually and gastronomically.

As for the standard denunciation of technology, let me point something out here. Christmas began life as a Roman holiday, the feast of Sol Invictus, the Invincible Sun, which came back to life every 25th day of the tenth month of the Roman year. Once Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire, he saw that he had a perfectly good holiday with nothing to holiday about anymore. Being a clever man, Constantine did what millions of other people have done in the years since then: he regifted. He put the celebration of Christ’s birth on the vacated holiday, despite the biblical evidence that Jesus was born in either the spring or summer; as I’ve mentioned in another context, in Judea shepherds do not tend their flocks by night in the middle of winter on the off-chance that a wandering heavenly host with nothing better to do with their time will come drifting by blasting out Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus in high definition stereo sound. But why was the 25th day of the tenth month the date of the holiday? Because when your most technologically advanced timekeeping device is a sundial, the 25th day of the tenth month is the day that clearly shows the days getting longer. Our Green Woman who despises technology so much only knows that the 21st day of the twelfth month of the Gregorian calendar is the longest day of the year because improved chronological technology can now tell her to the nanosecond when the big moment is going to happen. Without said technology, the Green Woman would be spewing her spiritual energy on the wrong day. On the other hand, I have to admit that watching the guy start a fire with a bow and a stick was pretty cool, but then I am easily entertained. Starting fires this way is a useful skill if you’re a Boy Scout or a Green Beret, but I think I will stick with the microwave oven, if it’s all the same to Gaia.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

THE RAGE OF THE LEFTIES: The hard left is not happy with the former junior senator from Illinois, and I suspect the former junior senator from Illinois is not happy with himself, but I suspect that both of them will get over it by 2012. Not so, say some of the left, we will primary the turncoat for his departure from the purest of pure dogma; I suspect if they could burn him at the stake for his heresy, they would, but that will not happen, of course, if for no other reason that the Secret Service would have something to say about casting the former junior senator from Illinois in the role of Giordano Bruno. I also strongly suspect that the hard left that lashes the One so hard now will fall into line by 2012 and that there will be no serious primary challenger.

How and why do I say this? Simple: who else are they going to support? Hilary? Hilary is part and parcel of the former junior senator’s administration; she can’t denounce him without opening herself up to questions about what she was doing in his administration. And where would this putative challenger gain his (or her) support? What parts of the Democratic base would be willing to challenge a sitting president of their own party? The labor unions? True, there has been little progress on card check, but the intervention that kept General Motors and Chrysler alive and out of bankruptcy also saved the UAW’s overpriced contracts with those companies and prevented the dominoes of disaster from racing through the industries that supply the big auto companies, something that I am sure the former junior senator’s minions will point out forcefully to any labor leader who wants to support a primary challenger. The expansion of the federal government continues apace, so the government unions will probably not vote against someone with a proven track record of bloating the government, and I think this may include the teachers’ unions as well, although they could go either way, depending on the circumstances. The blacks? Are you kidding? Any primary challenger who thinks that he’ll get the black vote away from the former junior senator from Illinois is deluding themselves in much the same way that the leaders of Europe’s socialist movement deluded themselves when the crisis came in August of 1914. Tribe trumps ideology; that is reality. The blacks will vote for their man and if our putative primary challenger did manage to unseat the One, then the blacks will sit the 2012 election out in protest; it may even give more than one black voter a reason to rethink his absolute commitment to the Democratic Party, which is always a good thing. And the rest of the limousine liberals on the East and West Coasts, the dwellers in the academic cloud-cuckoo-land, and the media and the chattering classes? There aren’t enough of these people to threaten the One, so in the end the hard left will swallow their ideological rage and tow the line.

The big question, I think, is whether the former junior senator from Illinois can swallow his rage. This is a unique situation for him, I think. He’s never been in a situation where he’s had to treat the Republicans seriously. Up to now, from his early days in politics to the White House, the GOP has been a curious abstraction to him, the way that any alternative lifestyle is an abstraction to those who don’t follow it. He comes from a safely Democratic state, a state where the Republicans know that they are in the minority and thus have to spend much time treating with the majority to get what scraps they can get. Whether he realized it before or not, Chicago-style politics only works in a one party state where there is no one to check the knife wielders. Come January 1st, that will not be possible. John Boehner does not need the One’s good will to flourish politically; the people of Ohio sent the future Speaker back to Washington to thwart the One and all his doings. Watching the former junior senator’s attempts to get what he wants from a now hostile House of Representatives should be very interesting and make for very interesting television. I’m still waiting for Olbermann’s head to make like Vesuvius, though; that promises to be entertaining.

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